Low Employment and Disability: New Study Shows Discrimination A Factor

 November 19, 2015
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, November 19th 2015

Regular visitors to this blog will know that here at M&L, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with both information and access to the tools that they need to build successful, happy, inclusive lives for themselves and their families. As a part of that commitment, we offer financial and life planning services to families with special needs that have been carefully designed to help them meet their life goals. These services, which focus both on financial and life planning, also include employment services – we want our clients to have fully inclusive lives, and that includes places to live, places to socialize, and places to work.

With that in mind, please take a minute to join us today as we discuss an employment disability study that we recently came across. The study, titled “The Disability Employment Puzzle: A Field Experiment on Employer Hiring Behavior”, really resonated with us here at M&L – but for all the wrong reasons. According to the study’s abstract, the “overall pattern of findings is consistent with the idea that disability discrimination continues to impede employment prospects of people with disabilities.”

Interested? Please read on.

The Study and Findings: A Summary

As you can tell from the title, the study was essentially a “field experiment” that examined the ways different employers reacted to potential employees based on their resumes and cover letters.

As a part of the experiment, the research team composed two different resumes to send in response to posted accounting jobs. One resume described a very experienced candidate with 6 years of experience, and the other resume described a “novice” candidate, newly graduated from college. They then created three cover letters – one for a candidate with no disability, one for a candidate with a spinal cord injury, and one for a candidate with Asperger’s syndrome. (Note: according to the researchers, these two disabilities were chosen because “they would not be expected to limit productivity in accounting, helping rule out productivity-based explanations for any differences in employer responses.[i]”) They then sent these applications – each resume with one of the three cover letters – out in response to 6,016 advertised openings. Both resumes, the new grad and the experienced professional, were appropriately qualified for these positions. As such, the only different between the applications sent in were in the cover letters.

The results to this experiment were somewhat disheartening. As reported in the study, researchers found that job applicants were 26% less likely to hear back from a potential employer if they disclosed having a disability. The response rates did not differ on the type of disability disclosed, rather than size of the employer and the job sought – more experienced candidates seemed to have the most difficulty – these applicants were 34% less likely to hear back from an employer. The most positive responses came from jobs that were in the government, publically held companies, and firms that hold contract with the federal government.

Not all news related to this study is negative, however: as was noted in an article published in the New York Times about the study, results show that the Americans With Disabilities Act, the 1990 federal law banning discrimination against those with disabilities, appeared to reduce bias. The lack of interest in disabled workers — and especially in the rate at which they were called back for an interview — was most pronounced in workplaces with fewer than 15 employees, the study found. Businesses that small are not covered by the federal law[ii].

As researchers concluded about the study, it is obvious that there is a link between disability and low employment rates; this link calls for more attention towards employer behavior and the “demand side of the labor market for people with disabilities.”

M&L Employment Services

As mentioned above, M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC offers a number of different employment services to our clients. We are proud to report that M&L owner/founder Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC is a Certified Work Incentive Coordinator – this means that Carney has been trained and can work in-depth with individuals with disability that are either working, or want to work and have questions regarding their benefits and insurance eligibility.

So, what does this mean for our clients? How exactly can we help you? It’s like this – Carney, as a CWIC, has an extensive knowledge of the complexities Carney – as a CWIC – has an extensive knowledge of the complexities of Social Security’s benefits. In fact, at M&L we help families with the application process for these benefits, and currently have a 100% success rate for 2013-2015 (click here to learn more).

Carney also uses her CWIC training and her knowledge of these benefits to provide work-incentive planning and assistance directly to individuals with disabilities.  She can perform outreach efforts to individuals with disabilities (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or State work incentives programs. CWICs also provide general information on the adequacy of health benefits coverage that may be offered by an employer of an individual with a disability, the extent to which other health benefits coverage may be available to that beneficiary in coordination with Medicare and/or Medicaid, and the availability of protection and advocacy services for beneficiaries with disabilities. She can also advise you as to how to access such services.

If you would like to learn more about this service, please contact us! We would love to hear from you. You may also wish to visit our Employment blog archive to read more posts we have published on the topic.

Thanks for dropping by today – we hope to see you again next week!

[i] http://www.nber.org/papers/w21560

[ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/upshot/fake-cover-letters-expose-discrimination-against-disabled.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

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